MAN AND HIS ENVIRONMENT
My compliments on the article My Country, 'Tis of Thee (Dec. 20-27). Bil Gilbert did an excellent job of describing the history of the environmental movement and its present status.
I must comment, however, on the implication that humanists and naturalists are somehow in conflict. I work for a group that is concerned with issues that are both humanistic and naturalistic, and we find them compatible. Cleaning the air not only improves public health, it also benefits wildlife and plant life. Protecting a wetland not only protects wildlife and scenery, it also provides flood control, pollution control, food, etc. In public health measures, we save the lives of our people; in the preservation of our environment, we guarantee the quality of the lives we save.
JOHN G. SOBETZER
East Michigan Environmental
I commend your magazine for its well-founded concern for environmental problems. Bil Gilbert took a balanced position that allowed me to see both the strengths and the weaknesses in past environmental efforts. His comments and perspective on the history of the environmental movement were most enlightening. Most important was his discussion of the need for conservation and a changed life-style. I wonder if our society will be able to voluntarily adjust to a less consumptive existence without a major shock.
WILLIAM REINHOLD ROGERS
Many thanks for the informative and stimulating discussion of the environment. I appreciate your dealing seriously with a serious problem.
Although it is true that a dwindling supply of natural resources will eventually force a change in our habits of resource consumption, many environmentalists choose to ignore the devastating effects that immediate and stringent conservation measures would have on our economy and on our personal liberties. For instance, many conveniently dismiss rising energy prices as a symptom of corporate greed while they simultaneously attempt to lock up those remaining energy resources that are cheapest for the consumer. Others naively believe that economic freedom in the private sector can be reduced without causing a similar reduction in personal freedom. Too often, justifiable environmental concern is used as an excuse to force a crash solution without examining the difficulties posed by the remedy.
Take, for example, the energy crisis, which is a harbinger of the mineral and agricultural crises yet to come. Can American consumers bear the enormous costs associated with kicking the carbon fuels habit, especially when the much touted solutions of solar, geothermal and wind energy have so little promise of becoming economically competitive? And what is the environmental cost associated with covering large areas of the Southwest with a huge array of solar-energy collectors? Oddly enough, many environmentalists place more faith in technology than it deserves.
It is obvious that we cannot go on consuming and polluting at an accelerating rate without risking environmental disaster. However, the public has a choice between a policy of moderate consumption with a reduced economic growth rate and one of over reaction to environmental concerns with harsh economic consequences.
I was somewhat amazed that Bil Gilbert could leave out the important contributions through time, effort, and license and firearms sales that sport hunters have made to improve and protect the environment.
CHARLES J. FARMER
Marina del Rey, Calif.
Bil Gilbert took on a formidable assignment in his overview of the environmental movement and did a first-rate job. We have circulated the article to the departments in this agency and are recommending that our environmental interns read it carefully.
In addition to Gilbert's fine piece, your readers may find helpful, as we do, two regular updates on the U.S. environmental scene. For a simplified yearly look at conservation, an "Environmental Quality Index" is published in the Feb.-March issue of National Wildlife magazine by the National Wildlife Federation. For a much more detailed and thorough report. Environmental Quality is published each year by the Council on Environmental Quality and is available at $3.50. There are now seven of these reports, which can be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. They form an excellent picture of how far we have come and where we are going environmentally in the U.S.
BRENDAN J. WHITTAKER
Vermont Agency of Environmental Conservation
Many thanks for the excellent journey through the magnificent years of Muhammad Ali (The Ali Years, Dec. 20-27). Never before has any sportsman so affected a populace, one way or another. I'm not sure what the future holds for the "people's champion," but whatever it is, I'm with him all the way.
Your magazine transcends mere sports reporting. Images of Ali's past were masterfully evoked, especially in the passages by Mark Kram and George Plimpton. They show Ali to be not only a powerful and ingenious boxer, but also a man who, despite all his talents, is strangely vulnerable and very human. All in all, the article was a joyful reminder of the way Ali once fought and a sad reminder that, because of age and time, he no longer can.
As a Blazer fan and a Bill Walton admirer, I was naturally pleased with Curry Kirkpatrick's fine article (Healthy, Wealthy and Size Dec. 13). After two years of reading and hearing the worst about Walton, it was a pleasure to finally read something relevant and intelligent about the man. If all goes well for Bill, Portland could replace Golden State as the king of the Pacific Division.
Bill Walton has once again shown that he can dominate every basketball game he plays in. Besides scoring, rebounding and blocking shots, Walton does many other things that do not show up in statistics. It all adds up to his being one of the best all-round players in the history of the sport. It's also refreshing to see Walton's attitude change.
Yes, Bill Walton has finally straightened himself out. But let's give a little credit to Portland Coach Jack Ramsay. One player can't make a team. Ramsay has also done one heck of a job.
CLAUS P. LYONS
Hinton, W. Va.
One of your pictures of Bill Walton makes him look like a red-haired wolfman about to attack someone. All he needs is fangs.
San Mateo, Calif.
Lon Chaney lives!
You say, "Bill Walton has emerged as the best all-round basketball player in the world." That statement should have read "second-best all-round player." The best all-round player is in Los Angeles under the name of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
KING AND KONG
In your article on Kentucky basketball (The Kain-tuck-ee Jubilee. Dec. 20-27) you say that "officials tend to raise their arms and blow their whistles whenever they see King (Rick Robey) or Kong (Mike Phillips) so much as breathe." After seeing these players in action, I can't help but feel that the officials' whistles are justified. It's sad to see a team excel by using force rather than talent. Is this the way Adolph Rupp taught the game? Certainly not. If these two players don't make it into professional basketball, I suggest they explore the heavyweight division of boxing.
New York City
Thank you for the article on the Bulls hockey team (Bullish Times in Birmin'ham. Dec. 13). The instant fan support for this "funny new game" merely proves that the great city of Birmingham is ready, and has been ready, for sound professional sports.
This city is definitely bullish on the Bulls and on hockey. As for players, Defenseman Jean-Guy Lagace has been superb. He is a welcome addition to the WHA.
WILLIAM M. FORD
Being an avid drag racing fan from Ohio (where you're born with a gearshift in hand), I was very pleased to see the article on Don (the Snake) Prudhomme in your magazine (This Snake Doesn't Rattle, He Rolls, Dec. 6). You have portrayed drag racing, a sport hidden for years by its grease and leathers, the way it really is, as fun and speed. Prudhomme is the center of racing wherever he goes, and 240 mph is going. You can have your Tony Dorsetts and Franco Harrises. I'll take a seat in the stands at a drag strip and watch a Fuel Coupe (Funny Car) over any football game.
As an avid fan of all motor sports my hat goes off to Bruce Newman. Never have I read such an enthralling story about a man and his sport.
In the article on Don Prudhomme, "TV Tommy" Ivo was quoted as saying, "A lot of [Prudhomme's] success is a result of his sponsors. Unfortunately, drag racing is now at a point where speed costs money."
Does Ivo think Prudhomme just started off with all the big sponsors he now has? No way. Hard work and winning came before the big-time sponsors.
Granada Hills, Calif.
Your article was interesting but also disappointing when it came to Tommy Ivo's outrageous comments about Don Prudhomme. Prudhomme is drag racing's most successful personality, a man who is highly competitive on the track, and among the most easygoing off it.
Granada Hills, Calif.
Isn't it amazing that the most prolific scorer in NCAA basketball history (Pistol Pete Maravich) and the most prolific runner in NCAA football history (Tony Dorsett) come from Aliquippa. Pa.? Has anyone checked the baseball stats?
MORE FROM NORTHERN LOUISIANA
As long as readers (Nov. 29) are mentioning pro football players from northern Louisiana, why leave out Joe Ferguson of Shreve-port, an adept quarterback in his own right? Other players from this area include Billy Joe DuPree of West Monroe, Joe Profit and Don Zimmerman of Monroe and Pat Tilley and Fred Dean of Ruston, not to mention more than 100 professional players who have come from Grambling.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building. Rockefeller Center, New York. New York. 10020.